When Ctg port goes the extra mile to save Tk 800 crore export cargoes

Tue Jun 28, 2022 09:00 AM Last update on: Tue Jun 28, 2022 09:53 AM

MV Haian City, a Vietnam-flagged container vessel, is seen, which was damaged because of a sideways collision with an oil tanker mid sea. The 172-metre container vessel was leaving Chattogram with Tk 800 crore worth export cargoes to Singapore. Photo: Collected.

The Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) has recently saved a severely damaged oceangoing ship, victim of an accident mid sea, which could have caused loss of export cargoes worth Tk 800 crore and could create an obstacle for navigation.

The timely and courageous steps taken by the CPA paid off here and saved the 172-metre container vessel when it collided sideways with another vessel.

The CPA in cooperation with Bangladesh’s Prantik Bengal Salvage and Diving completed a delicate task of bringing to shore the ship, which tilted 7 degrees after being hit.

The collision sliced huge holes on the ship’s hull, which were repaired diving under water, another task which requires high skills.

The CPA has termed the whole operation a big achievement for the port as well as for Bangladesh as the job has highlighted the port’s capability to the global community and created a bright image worldwide.

How did the accident happen?

MV Haian City, a Vietnam-flagged container vessel, left Chattogram port for Singapore in the morning on April 14 with 1,105 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers, including 718 TEUs export laden ones.

At around 10.30 am, the ship became victim of a sideways collision near Kutubdia around 14 nautical miles off from Patenga Naval base.

The centre of the place which took the main pressure of the sidewise collision is seen here in the body of MV Haian City. Photo: Collected.

MV Orion Express, a Bangladeshi inbound oil tanker, hit and created holes in the container vessel and an empty container instantly fell from the ship into the sea.

The oil tanker managed to arrive Chattogram on the same afternoon but the tilted Haian City had to anchor at the sea as two of its cargo holds were flooded due to underwater puncture on its hull.

The rescue job and Prantik Bengal

After the accident, the vessel’s owner and charterer firms sent survey teams to the spot to determine whether the damage could be repaired at the sea.

But they had to discard the on-the-spot repair plan as it was risky to work on a ship that is tilted, said Rafique Uddin Ahmed, general manager of the ship’s local agent Intermodal Pte Ltd.

The damaged ship was brought back around 20 days after the accident and later berthed at Karnaphuli Dry Dock on the southern part of Karnaphuli river.

On May 4, Prantik Bengal played the major role in the 5-hour salvage operation initiated by the CPA.

The salvage operation was rendered by six tug boats — four from the CPA and two from Prantik – along with two recovery and pollution control vessels of the Chittagong Port Authority.

Because of water in the ship’s cargo holds, the draft of the vessel reached 11 metres, 1.5 metres higher than the permitted draft of 9.5 metres at the port jetties at river Karnaphuli, said Syed Md Arif, chairman of Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association (BSAA).

Draft at the Karnaphuli Dry Dock on the southern part of river was enhanced through dredging to berth the ship there, he said.

Two CPA pilots boarded the damaged ship and manoeuvred it from Kutubdia to Karnaphuli Dry Dock.

“Salvaging a damaged vessel carrying over 1,100 TEUs of containers and re-entering it into the port channel was a brave attempt,” Arif said.

Salvaging the ship was a big challenge, but CPA Chairman Rear Admiral M Shahjahan made it happen, said Captain Faridul Alam, deputy conservator of the port authority.

CPA Chairman Rear Admiral M Shahjahan

Eid vacation was going on then, Alam said.

But sensing the threat, the CPA chairman convened emergency meeting with senior port officials and the ship’s local agent, its insurer P&I (protection and indemnity) Club, Bangladesh Navy and Coast Guard and decided to bring it back, he added.

The salvage team is discussing how the damaged ship can be rescued and brought to the shore for repair. Photo: Collected.

The vessel was in a dangerous position after the accident as it got tilted, posing serious threat for ship movement to and from the country’s premier port, Alam said.

If the vessel sank at the bay, the whole ship movement passage for the port could have been blocked, he said.

The underwater repair

It is reported that the vessel’s cargo holds number 4 and number 5 were flooded due to underwater puncture and containers loaded in the cargo holds were affected, Samudera Shipping Line, the charterer of Haian City, said in a statement on April 19.

“Due to a lack of safe access, the extent of container damage cannot be determined. An investigation committee is formed under Bangladesh Mercantile Marine Office to investigate the cause of the collision incident to assess the losses and determine the liabilities.”

The collision created a comparatively smaller hole on the portside shell plate, but the main damage was done under water, said Md Golam Sarwar, chairman of Prantik Bengal Salvage and Diving.

Md Golam Sarwar, chairman of Prantik Bengal Salvage and Diving.

A big 22 feet by 26 feet hole on the hull was causing the main harm to the ship, he said.

The holes were fixed by welding a huge 33 feet by 40 feet steel patch through diving under water, Sarwar said.

Clockwise from top left, 1) Workers are preparing the 33ft x 40ft steel patch that was welded to the body of MV Haian City. 2) The steel patch is seen just before being attached to the 172-metre container vessel. 3) The inner side of the patch. 4) The patch is seen after the completion of the repair work. Photo: Collected.

The welding was complex, so the former marine engineer Sarwar got himself engaged in the salvage and underwater repair.

Complexities other than rescue, repair

The Chittagong Port Authority wanted to ship the export-laden containers by another vessel, but it could not do it as the vessel’s Vietnam-based owning firm Hai An Transport and Stevedoring Joint Stock Company declared General Average or GA.

On April 28, the shipowner declared GA and appointed the Marine Claims Office of Asia Pte Ltd as the general average adjusters, said Samudera Shipping Line.

The General Average is a long-established procedure in the maritime industry for distributing extraordinary losses and expenditures in a fair manner between the parties (i.e. vessel and cargo) involved in case of a casualty, according to Danish shipping giant Maersk.

Finally, back in action

Over two months after the accident, the ship got certified as seaworthy or fit for sea voyage by international classification society.

It left the Karnaphuli Dry Dock for Singapore on June 21 and is expected to reach destination by June 29, according to another statement of Samudera released on June 21.

Samudera also said Haian City has completed her temporary repair and obtained approval for single voyage sailing to Singapore.

The ship is scheduled to depart Singapore after full cargo discharge for permanent structural repair in Dry Dock, the statement read.

What experts say about the salvage work

The local salvage firm certainly did an excellent job by salvaging the badly damaged vessel, said Captain Md Anam Chowdhury, president of the Bangladesh Marchant Marine Officers’ Association (BMMOA).

“If Prantik was not there, we had to bring expertise and logistics from abroad for rescuing the vessel,” he said.

Giving an example, the senior master mariner said around 10 years back a huge vessel brought for scrapping ran aground at the outer anchorage of the port.

Modern heavy tugboats were needed to be brought from abroad then to salvage the ship, he said.

Over 15 salvage firms are currently engaged in salvage operation in inland water routes, he informed.

“Only Prantik is doing salvage operations of oceangoing ships in Bangladesh.”

Here, Chowdhury recommended the government give policy support to equip other salvage firms to be able to salvage oceangoing ships.

“The salvage operation not only saved the ship but also Tk 800 crore worth export cargoes from being wreck, which could be a permanent obstacle for navigation,” said BSAA Chairman Syed Md Arif.

Author Chittagong Port Agent
Chittagong Port Agent is the largest trading & shipping platform, We maintains the largest business network over the world through trading and shipping. We focused to developing the modern business ethics by increasing profit share for our honorable maritime clients such as ship owners, charterers, brokers and all traders. We believe to work smartly not harder. Our skilled team works in a nice and friendly environment in smart way. We trained especially to reduce daily work, find out hidden charges and keep strong relation by honestly, loyalty and best professional approach. We able to work in Chittagong port, Mongla port, Payra port, Matarbari port, outer anchorage, kutubdia, herbaria, buoya and jetty side. We had several experiences to work in Chittagong Dry dock also. We already handle dry bulk, container, mother tanker, Oil Tanker, tug, barges, survey vessel, dredger, floating crane, self-propelled flat barges etc.